Worker Burnout

Do you dread going to work? Does thinking about a career you used to enjoy bring you apathy at best and make you want to break down in tears at worst? Does nothing about work motivate you any more, and you feel like you’re just barely scraping by? If so, you might be experiencing worker burnout.

If that sounds like you, you aren’t alone. A survey of over 10,000 workers in six different global economies found that nearly 40% of workers feel burned out. It impacts all social demographics, but Millennials, Gen Z, and women are the most affected. Today, let’s talk about worker burnout and see how you can find ways to cope– and maybe even start feeling a little better.

What Is Worker Burnout?

Worker burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress or overwork in the workplace. It’s more than just feeling tired or stressed out; it’s a chronic condition characterized by feelings of cynicism, detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness. Burnout can affect anyone in any profession, from office workers to healthcare professionals to teachers, and it’s a serious mental health concern. Remember, burnout is not a sign of weakness; it’s a signal that something needs to change.

Recognizing Worker Burnout

Recognizing the signs of worker burnout is crucial for addressing it effectively. Here are some common signs that you may be experiencing burnout. These signs can be symptoms of other conditions, like depression or anxiety, but if they’re linked to your feelings about work, burnout may be likely.

  • Physical Exhaustion: Constant fatigue, feeling tired even after getting enough sleep, and experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, or even gastrointestinal issues.
  • Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and unable to cope with stress. You might feel irritable, moody, or emotionally numb.
  • Cynicism and Detachment: Developing a negative or cynical attitude towards work, colleagues, or the organization. You feel detached or disconnected from your job and the people around you.
  • Decreased Performance: Experiencing a decline in work performance, productivity, and quality of work. It’s difficult to concentrate, make decisions, or stay focused on tasks.
  • Lack of Motivation: Losing interest or enthusiasm for your work, feeling apathetic or indifferent towards your responsibilities and goals.
  • Increased Absenteeism: Taking more sick days or time off from work than usual, either due to physical illness or just needing a break from work.
  • Difficulty Sleeping: Having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep patterns due to stress and worry about work.
  • Changes in Behavior: Engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating, substance abuse, or withdrawing from social activities. You may avoid work-related conversations or social interactions with colleagues.
  • Decreased Satisfaction: Feeling dissatisfied or unfulfilled with your job, despite previous enjoyment or fulfillment.

If you notice these signs in yourself or someone else, you need to take them seriously and take steps to address them. Ignoring burnout can lead to further deterioration of mental and physical health, as well as long-term negative consequences for both the individual and the organization.

Coping with Worker Burnout

So if you think you may be experiencing burnout… what do you do next? It’s all well and good to know what burnout looks like, but realistically, you have to work. Most people in the US live paycheck to paycheck, and taking time away from work simply is not feasible for most of us. Additionally, with so much of our health insurance tied to healthcare, even if you could leave work for a long period of time, you might not be able to get the treatment you need.

It’s not fair. Mental unwellness is never fair, but take a deep breath. You’re strong, and you can get through this. Here are some coping strategies you can use to help get through the depths of worker burnout.

Self-Care Practices

One of the most important coping strategies for dealing with burnout is prioritizing self-care. Taking time for yourself is not selfish; it’s essential for maintaining your overall well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s going for a walk, practicing yoga, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones. Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine, just like any other work task.

You should also cultivate hobbies and interests outside of work that bring you joy and fulfillment. Whether it’s painting, gardening, playing music, or cooking, having hobbies can provide a much-needed escape from work-related stressors and help you reconnect with your passions. And despite what hustle culture says, don’t worry about monetizing them or what you can get out of them. Your hobbies should bring you enjoyment and relaxation; they shouldn’t be another form of stress.

Self-care can also include physical activities. This is especially important if you have a desk job; sitting all day can lead to health issues like chronic back pain and even vascular issues. Engaging in regular physical activity is a natural mood-lifter that helps reduce stress and anxiety. You don’t have to go hard; a short walk in nature or around the block, or a leisurely bike ride can help you cope.

Practicing Mindfulness

Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine can help reduce stress and promote mental clarity. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment, which can help break the cycle of rumination and worry. Try incorporating mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindful walking into your day to cultivate a sense of calm and presence.

Making Changes At Work

You deserve a work-life balance, which means that work stops at the end of the workday. Learn to set boundaries to protect your time and energy. Saying no to additional tasks or commitments when you’re already overwhelmed is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of self-respect. Establish clear work-life boundaries by designating specific times for work and personal activities. This means turning off email notifications outside of work hours and resisting the urge to check work-related messages during your downtime. If you’re not getting paid for your time, it does not belong to your boss. Period.

Time management at work can also make a big difference. Breaking up your workday can help you with the overwhelming slog of work that your job can turn into when you are trying to work through burnout.  Break tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. Use tools such as to-do lists, calendars, and time-tracking apps to stay organized and focused. Remember to schedule regular breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge.

If burnout is pervasive within your organization, consider advocating for change or seeking assistance from HR or management. Addressing systemic issues such as excessive workload, poor communication, or lack of support can help create a healthier work environment for everyone.

Seeking Support for Worker Burnout

Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Talk to a trusted colleague, friend, or family member about your feelings and experiences. Sometimes, simply sharing your thoughts and emotions can provide relief and perspective. Consider joining a support group or seeking professional help from a counselor or therapist who can offer guidance and strategies for managing stress. If you’d like some help dealing with worker burnout, don’t hesitate to reach out to the therapy team here at Love Heal Grow. We’re here for you!


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